by Jack Minor
A report by the inspector general for the Department of Defense, says a draft report leaked to the media claimed there was widespread support among service members for lifting a ban on homosexuals serving openly, prior to the actual troop survey being conducted.
The 33 page report, marked “for official use only” was released on April 8, 2011. The purpose of the report was to investigate and determine the identity of the persons who were the unnamed sources” for the November 11, 2010, Washington Post front-page story, “Report: Little Risk to Lifting Gay Ban.”
The Post article referenced two sources claiming that 70 percent of the military believed repealing the Revolutionary War ban on homosexuals serving openly would have little to no effect on troop readiness.
Prior to Congress’ vote to repeal the ban, Defense Secretary, Robert Gates formed the Comprehensive Review Working Group to “assess and consider impacts, if any, a change in the law would have on military readiness, military effectiveness and unit cohesion, and how to best manage such impacts during implementation.”
The IG report stated that while original data from the CRWG draft project was intended to be limited to 41 “eyes only” recipients, 60 other individuals including five White House staff members were either given access to the draft report or briefed on its contents prior to the Post story.
The IG’s office interviewed each of these individuals, except the White House staff. Each of the 96 questioned, denied under oath releasing information to the Post or other media sources.
A copy of the report was provided to Elaine Donnelly, with the Center for Military Readiness. Donnelly noted that one of the White House staff members with information to the report was James Messina, Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff . Messina, the designated “liason” to LGBT activists and hailed as an “unsung hero” in the drive to repeal DADT is currently the campaign manager for Obama’s re-election campaign.
One of the co-chairs of the CRWG, Mr. Jeh C. Johnson, released portions of an early draft to a news anchor three days prior to service members receiving the Don’t ask, don’t tell survey. The anchor was given the draft to provide “advice regarding syntax, sentence structure, and suggestions for persuasive writing” as a “personal favor.”
The report said the news anchor who is described as “a close personal friend visiting Mr. Johnson’s home” testified he “was very pleased that finally the United States was getting around to this idea (repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell), and I was struck by how many members of the United States Armed Forces thought this was just fine.”
When asked how he came to that conclusion, when the survey had not been sent out to service members yet, the anchor replied the information was in “one of the sentences I had a problem with in terms of sentence structure.”
Donnelly said the statements by the anchor that Johnson was polishing his pro-repeal Executive Summary in July clearly indicates that the CRWG was going to claim repeal would have no negative impact─no matter what the official survey responses said. She continued “The DoD IG Report concluded that the defining Executive Summary of the CRWG report already was drafted—the only question was how to present it “persuasively.”
A memo dated October 7, 2010 reporting on statistics in the troop survey stated that “53.6 percent of Service members said repeal would have a neutral impact … 16. 7 percent said repeal would have a positive impact. In other words, just over 70 percent of Service members believe repeal either has a neutral or positive impact on unit cohesion, readiness, effectiveness and morale.”
While it was clear that only 16.7 percent of troops were supportive of repealing the ban, this memo apparently became part of the basis for the 70 percent support that was quoted in the media and during the Senate debate on the repeal.
The report noted that the source of the leak to the Post could just as easily have stated that the vast majority of troops opposed overturning the ban.
To arrive at the 70 percent figure one had to combine the results from four different categories, very positively, positively, mixed and no effect. The source could just as easily concluded that 82 percent of respondents said the effect of repealing the ‘Don’t Ask, Don”t Tell’ policy would be negative, mixed or no effect.
It was also noted that they believed the purpose of the leak was designed “to support a pro-repeal agenda.” The report said “We consider it likely that the primary source disclosed content from the draft Report with the intent to shape a pro-repeal perception of the draft Report prior to its release to gain momentum in support of a legislative change during the ‘lame duck’ session of Congress following the November 2, 2010, elections.”
After conducting an analysis of the IG report, Donnelly said Congress should conduct hearings on the issue saying there was a strong possibility members were deceived into voting for the repeal.
Prior to the repeal on “gay” servicemembers serving openly, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Obama and the Secretary of Defense must certify that the repeal would not harm military readiness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention. The repeal would then take effect 60 days later.
In April, Sgt. Major of the Marine Corps, Michael Barrett told Military.com that he was not seeing any evidence of Marines leaving because of the repeal of DADT.
Donnelly told the Gazette there is currently no accurate data regarding retention or recruiting since voting to repeal the ban. “We advised Congress to provide an opportunity for service members to indicate on a checklist why they are leaving and to include DADT as one of the categories. The pentagon currently does not do so.”
Donnelly said it will take several years until the contracts of those currently serving expire to accurately determine if repealing the ban has affected retention. Gates has said military members will not be allowed to leave early based on their opposition to serving with openly “gay” troops.
She also said it is not yet possible to show if recruiting numbers are being affected by the repeal. “Currently, recruiting is high because of the economy and the numbers can be adjusted by benefits and bonuses. You will not see any direct effect on recruiting for a couple of years.”
Donnelly went on to say there is no empirical evidence the military is ready for the repeal, and the “proof” offered is all based on theory. She also said if the repeal goes through it will only be a matter of time before the services will be forced to accept transgenders and bi-sexuals.
The Marine Times reported in June, that nearly 60 percent of Marine and Army combat troops thought repealing the law would hurt unit cohesiveness. Outgoing defense secretary, Robert Gates has said the ban could be repealed in late July or early August.